What does it mean to be an intentional listener? These days, it seems like a lot of people only listen in order to reply, but not in order to extend conversation into a place of understanding and active listening. Storytelling has always had a charisma for me, and there is nothing I enjoy more than learning about people through their personal stories. Stories that tell the apex of their happiness, the fathoms of their tribulations, and the tales which spell out their personal growth. I am a part of the Social Media Committee, and we are nearing the end of our “Humans of National Health Corps” social media campaign. It has been quite a great pleasure to be behind this campaign and to immerse myself in the stories of colleagues. Stories that have warmed our hearts, inspired us, and made our eyes glisten with welled-up tears.
The very idea of social media seems to conjure up different opinions regarding its use and its effects. Many see social media as a vehicle to only show the glamourous and the shining moments of people’s lives, but I believe that it can also be a tool to show humanity and humility. My inspiration for the format of this campaign stem from the stories of the families I serve. Families that come in contact with my host site seeking help to gain health insurance or public benefits to help them overcome their medical and social service needs.
I have been involved in the process of conducting interviews for the upcoming service term’s AmeriCorps members at my host site, and one of the questions they have taken a liking to asking of me is: “What is the most fulfilling part of your service so far?”, and I tell them that it had to be the stories of the families I serve. The sheer variety of people I have met throughout my service term has solidified my belief that we can learn from others when we decide to open our ears and our minds to people’s experiences. Whether they are a Syrian family seeking asylum to escape their fears of prosecution or a family that have found themselves upon difficult times as a result of the ravages of natural disaster, I have found myself holding back tears or sharing a jovial moment when they tell their stories.
I have always believed that stories are a communal currency of humanity. From realizations on the true meaning of empathy to revelations about their past, my colleagues have been able to tell parts of their service experience through candid captions depicting their manifold experiences throughout this term. Though it can prove to be a daunting task to bare your thoughts, only to be shared, viewed, enjoyed, and even criticized by readers, I applaud my colleagues for allowing us to peer into the raw forms of their emotions through the stories they have shared with us. Their humanity shines, not only through their devotion to their service, their clients, and their host-sites, but also through the words they have shared with us. I have nothing but a deep gratitude for these stories whether they are from my families or my colleagues. I can only hope to continue the exchange of this “communal currency” to deepen our understanding and our regard for the very people surrounding us.
This blog post was written by NHC FL AmeriCorps member, Jarvis Ramil.
Jarvis serves at THE PLAYERS Center as a Care Coordinator.